History Wars at the ROM

Second Series of Provocative Canadian-theme Debates

The gloves are off! The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) launches its second series of lively debates, exploring some of the most provocative subjects and personalities in Canadian history. Notable experts duke it out on hot button position statements based on topics ranging from crime, health care, and Quebec. Experts including professors, journalists and authors argue for and against some of the most compelling subjects in Canadian history. The series launched last year with all debates selling out in advance.

The first debate Power Corrupts Canadian Prime Ministers takes place Wednesday, October 25th, 2011 in the ROM’s Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery on Level 1. Admission for the general public is $25; ROM Members $20; (Public: $60; ROM Members: $45 for all 3 debates.) Full debate details are listed below. For more information and tickets call 416.586. 5797 or click here to visit the What's On Calendar.

Power Corrupts Canadian Prime Ministers

Tuesday, October 25, 6:30- 8 pm

Canadian Prime Ministers have a lot of power. Do they have too much? Do they like to use it too much? Does the use of power inevitably lead to the abuse of power? Is Parliament just a rubber stamp and are Members of Parliament "nobodies" on and off the Hill? Is Canada really an autocracy masquerading as a democracy? What does our political history - from Sir John A. Macdonald and the Pacific Scandal through Jean Chrétien and the Sponsorship scandal - suggest about the quality of stewardship of our political leaders?

Speaking for the motion will be Andrew Coyne.Coyne is one of Canada’s best-known and most visible political commentators, having written for every national newspaper and magazine. Currently he is National Editor of Maclean’s Magazine and one of CBC’s "At Issue" panelists. Speaking against the motion will be the Honourable Sheila Copps, who will defend at least some Prime Ministers. Copps has had a long, distinguished career in both provincial and federal politics. She served under Jean Chrétien as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment, and Minister of Canadian Heritage. She ran for the Liberal leadership against Paul Martin, and after leaving politics has been a frequent and insightful commentator. Her books include Nobody’s Baby. Moderator: J.L. Granatstein, Historian of Canadian politics, foreign policy and defense.

Tommy Douglas put Canada’s Healthcare on the Wrong Path

Wednesday January 25, 2012, 6:30-8 pm

Did Canada take a wrong turn in the 1960s when, with Saskatchewan leading the way, a system of universal public health insurance was created? Was Canadian "medicare" a great step forward in the provision of a fundamental social service - Canada’s biggest and best social program? Or did it become a bloated albatross, a bureaucratic approach to health care that created inefficiencies, rationing, and mediocrity? Was Tommy Douglas, father of the distinctive Canadian approach to health care, actually the greatest Canadian, or was he a deluded socialist?

Speaking for the motion will be Michael Bliss, University Professor emeritus at the University of Toronto who has long been one of Canada’s most prolific and prominent historians. He has written widely in the history of medicine, about Canadian politics, and on current Canadian issues including health care. He is currently president of the American Osler Society and has recently published a memoir, Writing History: A Professor’s Life. Speaking against the motion will be Greg Marchildon, who will defend Tommy Douglas’s vision. Dr. Marchildon holds the Canada Research Chair at the Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy, University of Regina. Dr. Marchildon served as the CEO of the Romanow Royal Commission on Health Care and has extensively written and spoken on the key issues facing Canada's medicare. His background includes teaching at Johns Hopkins University, Washington, and he was a senior civil servant in the Saskatchewan government under Roy Romanow. Moderator: J.L. Granatstein, Historian of Canadian politics, foreign policy and defense.

Canada is not Bilingual, Binational or Bicultural

Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 6:30-8 pm

What does Quebec want? That question has been asked since Confederation, and today Canada is sometimes bilingual, occasionally bicultural; (except when it’s multicultural), and some in Quebec see it as bi-national if not deux nations. What were we? What are we? What should we be?

Speaking for the motion will be David Bercuson, the director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and a member of the History Department there. He is also Vice-President (Research) of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a prolific writer on defence, foreign policy, political history, and Canada and Quebec. Speaking against the motion will be Antonia Maioni. Maioni teaches Political Science at McGill University and was until recently Director of the McGill Centre for the Study of Canada. She writes on Quebec and Canada, Canadian public policy and social policy, and is a frequent media commentator. Moderator: Michael Bliss, one of Canada’s prolific and prominent historians.

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The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is an agency of the Government of Ontario. Opened in 1914, Canada’s largest museum of natural history and world cultures has six million objects in its collections and galleries showcasing art, archaeology and natural science. For 24-hour information in English and French, please call 416.586.8000 or visit the ROM’s web site at www.rom.on.ca